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Keeping On Going

Our attitudes today make a difference to our tomorrows

by Janice Ross (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider that our futures depend on the choices that we make each day.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a selection of tools that are suitable for DIY, such as a screwdriver, a hammer, a paintbrush and a chisel.


  1. Ask the children some questions about DIY.

    - Which children have parents who enjoy DIY?
    - Do the children help with DIY?
    - What do they make or fix?
    - What has been the biggest project they have undertaken?

    Discuss the importance of careful planning and good tools. Show some DIY tools and discuss what each is used for.

  2. Tell the following story about a carpenter who was about to retire.

    Bill had been in the carpentry trade for 50 years, ever since he left school as a young lad of 15. He had always been good with his hands and, from as far back as he could remember, he had always wanted to be a carpenter. He had learned his trade in a small joiner’s shop, and had spent his working life in the house-building business. He was now 65 years old and ready to retire. Bill planned to finish his work this month.
    ‘It’s time to hang up my tools and spend more time in the garden and with my grandchildren,’ he told Mr Towers, his employer for the last 40 years and his very good friend. Bill knew that he would miss his pay cheques, but he and his wife would get by. It was time to call it a day.
    Mr Towers was very sorry to see Bill go. He had been a great worker. ‘Please, Bill, will you work on just one more house, as a personal favour?’ he asked.
    ‘All right,’ Bill said, and began this last job. Mr Towers didn’t tell him who owned the house that he was working on.
    As time went by, it was clear that his heart was not in his work. He cut corners, and resorted to shoddy workmanship and inferior materials. He didn’t take the same time or care that he usually took. It was a sad way for such a skilful man to end his career.
    When Bill had finished his work, Mr Towers came to inspect the house. Then, to Bill’s surprise, he handed Bill the key to the front door. ‘This house is for you, Bill,’ he said. ‘It’s my gift to you for all your years of service.’
    Imagine Bill’s surprise, and shock! What a shame! If only Bill had known that he was working on his own house, he might have done it all so differently! Now he had to live in a home with all the little mistakes, poor materials and short cuts that only he knew about.

  3. Explain to the children that this story is a bit like our lives. Every day, we are building something very important: our life.
    Sometimes, we put our very best efforts into what we do. This is especially easy at the beginning of a new school year, or if someone is watching or if there is a reward! It is not so easy at the end of a school term when the sun is shining and we would rather be outside. 
    Sometimes, we don’t always give our work our best effort. We become a bit slack and we make do with less than the best, just like Bill.
    At the start of a new school year, let’s decide to build our lives wisely, remembering that it is the only life we will ever build.

Time for reflection

Imagine that you are a carpenter and your life is like a house. However, you won’t be building walls, laying floorboards and hammering nails. Today, you will be working at school, relating to teachers and other children and making choices. Think about how you will build wisely.

Dear God,
I would like my life to be built on good, strong foundations.
I would like to have a life that I can be proud of.
Help me today to make wise choices, to have the right attitude and to do my best.


‘God knows me’ (Come and Praise, 15)

Publication date: September 2016   (Vol.18 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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